Michigan State has lost a ton of offensive talent ever since the team was defeated 42-39 by Wisconsin in the inaugural Big Ten Championship game in 2011. Not only do they have to replace Kirk Cousins as the starting quarterback, but running back Edwin Baker, receivers B.J. Cunningham, Keshawn Martin and Keith Nichol are all departed as well. Furthermore, there are vacancies to be filled at both starting tight end positions.
Needless to say, Michigan State is going to take some time to get going offensively in 2012.
However, the defense could prove to be not only the best in the conference, but possibly even the nation. With William Gholston and Marcus Rush forming one of the Big Ten's most dynamic pass rushing duos, offenses are going to have some serious trouble with Mark Danotonio's front seven.
In the secondary, Isaiah Lewis and Darqueze Dennard are both great playmakers. Their ball skills are among the most elite in the NCAA, so they have the potential to wreak havoc on opposing teams.
However, as talented as this Michigan State team is, their schedule is among the toughest in the country. Not only do they play their conference foes, but their non-conference schedule includes both Notre Dame and Boise State.
Let's take a look at every game on the Spartans schedule, starting with the least challenging opponents and working our way all the way up to the nationally ranked powerhouses.